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volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
12/4/15 7:21 a.m.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked you all for advice on what vehicle my brother-in-law should look for to replace his Miata. Despite my fears that posing such a heretical question here on Grassroots Miatasports would generate hate replies, hate email, death threats, and voodoo curses, y'all responded very helpfully. I even shared the link with B-I-L, whose warped sense of humor allowed him to enjoy the banter in good fun.

The very first reply came from MadScientistMatt:

MadScientistMatt wrote: A 4 wheel drive version of the Blazer he's got now might be the best answer.

Huh. Makes sense, right? B-I-L has (in addition to the Miata) a 2000 Chevy Blazer with a quarter of a million miles on it. He kept the Blazer after he got the Miata in order to have a vehicle he could haul stuff with, beat off road, and use on excursions into the mountains in winter. But the Blazer's now reached the point of being a lost cause (the latest mechanic report read something like "remove battery, replace vehicle") and he's already been in situations where the Miata was a sub-optimal vehicle for his needs.

Now, my Father-in-Law (F-I-L), being an old-time Chevy Guy, bought his daughter (who turned out to be my wife) a lightly-used 2000 GMC Jimmy some time after procuring the afore-mentioned Blazer. She's owned the Jimmy since 2005, and it's always been "engineer-maintained"- first by her dad, and then by the guy writing this thing. The Jimmy (whose name is, curiously, "Lucy") has a couple of fewer Earth-circumnavigation's worth of miles on it, 2 extra driven wheels, 2 fewer doors, and functional A/C. In other words: perfect for B-I-L's intended use. And since we picked up a box-body Suburban (named Black Betty, bam-ba-lam!) for my wife to ferry our dog and adorable small child around in, the Jimmy's been relegated to 2nd tier in our household's automotive lineup. The only problem in the seemingly-perfect "give Lucy the Jimmy to B-I-L" plan:

Lucy the Jimmy lives in Maryland, with us. B-I-L lives in Pheonix.

Now, as it happens, the wife's family decided that this would be the year in which everyone hauled their cookies out to Pheonix to spend Christmas with the western contingency of the family. And, being frugal and practical, it was decided that this would transpire the week or so prior to Christmas.

To bring this all around to something resembling a plot for this story: wife, B-I-L and I confabbed a plan whereby we'd drive Lucy the Jimmy out to him, spend the week out there, and then fly back to Maryland, leaving him with Lucy.

Simple, right? Oh, but there's more...

Dusterbd13
Dusterbd13 UberDork
12/4/15 7:42 a.m.

This should be fun. To watch.

However, traveling that far with an infant does not.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Dork
12/4/15 7:47 a.m.

This should be fun (although ditto what Duster said about the infant ). Are you going to find a way to complete Route 66? If not, you'll be missing the best section (Western AZ/CA).

CGLockRacer
CGLockRacer SuperDork
12/4/15 7:53 a.m.

petegossett
petegossett PowerDork
12/4/15 8:34 a.m.

In reply to volvoclearinghouse:

So how much are you asking for the auto Miata once you bring it home?

RedGT
RedGT Reader
12/4/15 8:39 a.m.

Someone's gotta ask: What is the longest road trip you have done with the kid so far? We found that at that age 6-7 hours in the car seat is a long day even with breaks, and would not want to make the poor kid do it multiple days in a row. 7 hours to the beach, have the time of her little life for a week, then 7 hours home? Doable. 7 hours followed by 7 hours followed by...7 more hours? Oh. Hell. No.

Robbie
Robbie SuperDork
12/4/15 9:18 a.m.

I've done a couple 10-16 hr trips in the car with my less than 1 year old son. Tips:

Do all boring stuff at night. Start at 4pm or so, right before afternoon nap. Drive while kid sleeps, and when they wake up, stop for dinner, let kid play around for an hour. Get back in car, drive as far as you can go while the kid sleeps again.

Unfortunately, doing the above will only get you to like, maybe, the mississippi.

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
12/4/15 9:30 a.m.
RedGT wrote: Someone's gotta ask: What is the longest road trip you have done with the kid so far?

We've driven with her to South Carolina and back a few times, that's about the farthest in one day. Those trips generally involve about 8 hours of actual driving, interspersed with around 2 hours of stopping to feed, add gas, release gas, change diapers, and stretch. Oh, and there's usually a dog involved, too- something that won't be an issue this time (some friends of ours will be keeping her for us).

She's always been a really trooper on road trips, so, yes, while this will be the farthest we've ever taken her in one trip, we're betting with the odds on this. We hope.

200 years ago, folks packed up their families and headed west in Conestoga wagons through regions with even worse cell phone coverage and fewer Flying J's than there are today, so I'm really not worried. We even have pneumatic tires on our wagon- such opulence!

Brett_Murphy
Brett_Murphy PowerDork
12/4/15 9:45 a.m.
Robbie wrote: Do all boring stuff at night. Start at 4pm or so, right before afternoon nap. Drive while kid sleeps, and when they wake up, stop for dinner, let kid play around for an hour. Get back in car, drive as far as you can go while the kid sleeps again.

I've done multiple 14 hour trips that turn into 24 hour trips with one or two small children. The advice above is great. The most important thing to realize is that the schedule and pace is going to be set by the little one when they are awake, not by you, so do as much as you can while they are sleeping.

I suggest bringing a DVD player or laptop with the Wiggles or whatever kid's shows your child likes.

I'll also add to have whoever is NOT driving ride in the backseat with the kid.

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
12/4/15 10:35 a.m.
Brett_Murphy wrote:
Robbie wrote: Do all boring stuff at night. Start at 4pm or so, right before afternoon nap. Drive while kid sleeps, and when they wake up, stop for dinner, let kid play around for an hour. Get back in car, drive as far as you can go while the kid sleeps again.

I suggest bringing a DVD player or laptop with the Wiggles or whatever kid's shows your child likes.

I'll also add to have whoever is NOT driving ride in the backseat with the kid.

DV...what now?

KyAllroad
KyAllroad SuperDork
12/4/15 10:46 a.m.

I do almost all big family trips driving overnight these days so the kids can sleep.

When they were little the RV was the greatest thing ever since little bladders like more emptying, but that doesn't apply for this trip.

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
12/4/15 11:54 a.m.

The other part of this trip that we decided to work in is seeing some parts of America that we don't get to see too much of. My wife's actually never been west of the Mississippi other than a brief trip to San Francisco one time. So we're taking a planned 4 or 5 days to get out to Phoenix, and, yes, we plan on taking good ole Route 66 for much of that.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ wrote: This should be fun (although ditto what Duster said about the infant ). Are you going to find a way to complete Route 66? If not, you'll be missing the best section (Western AZ/CA).

Due to time constraints, we are unfortunately going to be skipping western AZ and California. But wife really wants to see Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, and I remember parts of New Mexico being really beautiful. We'll have to pick up the last, western stretch of 66 some other time.

So, the planned itinerary involves a one-day blast west, basically as far as we can get on I-70 before we run out of patience from the little one. Hopefully that will put us somewhere in Illinois. Or maybe Indiana. But hopefully not Ohio. Then we'll head to St Louis, where I hear they have some sort of metal arched-thing that you can ride up in. From there it will be Rt 66 in daily doses as large as we can muster, eventually working our way out to Winslow, AZ. Once I've stood on the corner in a flat bed Ford with my girls, we'll truck due south until we hit Pheonix.

Oh, and we leave Sunday. Like, in less than 2 days. Yep. This is going to be happening.

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
12/4/15 12:12 p.m.
petegossett wrote: In reply to volvoclearinghouse: So how much are you asking for the auto Miata once you bring it home?

Dude. I wish. Even an automatic Miata. But you know, with the car seat and everything...

Funny Story: when we'd originally planned the great Western Christmas, we were going to fly out and rent a car. So my wife, ever the forward-thinking mind that she is, decided to buy a new car seat (which we needed, as small child is becoming not-so-small child very quickly and outgrowing her current car seat) and have it shipped to B-I-L. We'd then use it with the rental car, and ship it back to ourselves when we left.

Well, the car seat was already ordered when we decided to change plans, and since B-I-L missed the Fedex dropoff, he had to go pick up said car seat. In his Miata:

Miata car seat

petegossett
petegossett PowerDork
12/4/15 12:56 p.m.

In reply to volvoclearinghouse:

Wow, that's clean. SWMBO would love that.

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
12/6/15 8:57 a.m.

Sunday morning, 9:27AM. West bound and down, loaded up and truckin'.

IMG_20151206_091359

Mrs. VCH is at the wheel. We're currently doing 80 miles per hour, and just got passed. By a van.

The morning started at 5:20AM. That doesn't seem like 4 hours ago, but we've been...busy. Woke up, made breakfast, said good-bye to the chickens, and packed everyone into the Jimmy. Mrs. VCH followed me to the Baltimore airport where I staged Black Betty in anticipation of our flight back. That was followed by a stop for coffee and pastries - crucial for commencing any serious road trip.

Yesterday was a similar blur. Have you ever noticed how life periodically conspires to cram a bunch of events into the smallest possible span of time? Yeah, that happened. I got a call Friday morning for the car trailer I've had listed unsuccessfully on Craigslist for 3 months now. And thus, a motivated buyer showed up at our door Saturday morning, and ownership of the trailer was traded for a wad of currency.

Besides last-minute Craigslist dealing, I finished the preparations of Lucy for her long westward jaunt. Here she is, after a new fuel pump, fuel filter, battery, serpentine belt, tensioner, coolant flush (to remove the dreaded Dex Cool), and the general checkover you'd give any vehicle before starting a major road trip.

IMG_20151205_095550

In no particular order: We packed. We froze 30 gallons of swiss chard we had to harvest now, due to the frost. We had dinner with some friends of ours, who will be watching our dog, Sadie, while we're off seeing America. And I think we ended up asleep at some point close to midnight.

In other words, exactly how you'd want to spend the day before heading off on a 45 hour drive.

At least Mella's in good spirits. So far. And the inside of the car is now completely covered in confectioner's sugar.

IMG_20151206_091048

KyAllroad
KyAllroad SuperDork
12/6/15 12:50 p.m.

Sounds awesome!! Have a great trip man, sounds like you'll miss Kentucky though, too bad

Toyman01
Toyman01 MegaDork
12/6/15 4:29 p.m.

Have a fun and safe trip. Make sure you tell us all about it.

mazdeuce
mazdeuce PowerDork
12/6/15 6:42 p.m.

You're in it now. Have fun and take as many breaks as you need to. Take pictures. Tell us all about it.

tpwalsh
tpwalsh HalfDork
12/6/15 8:35 p.m.

I'm not sure which way you're headed down 66, but I have a well equipped garage(and a place to crash for the night) in Bloomington/Normal, IL if you get in a bind.

Looks like it'll be great fun! Post lots of pictures!

sethmeister4
sethmeister4 SuperDork
12/6/15 8:45 p.m.

Man that sounds like a blast! Drive safe!

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
12/7/15 10:17 a.m.

The sun set slowly across the Indiana plain.

IMG_20151206_172017

More slowly than usual, I though, and then I realized: we were chasing it. This was a new phenomenon for Mrs VCH and I, as nearly all of our road trips together so far have been up and down the East coast. Mrs. VCH remarked as much while I was churning through Ohio during my stint behind the wheel of Lucy.

Sunday went pretty well. Mrs. VCH prefers driving first, so with her at the tiller we blasted through the mountains of western Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia (again) and into Ohio.

IMG_20151206_115837

IMG_20151206_123400

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We saw something I'd never spotted in the wild before. As we approached it, I could see Mrs. VCH peering ahead intently. She was focussing on the car ahead of her, but couldn't quite make it out. Finally she said "what....is that?" I'd been looking out the window, but as I whipped my attention to the windshield, I knew, in an instant, what we were overtaking.

IMG_20151206_100911

"It's the Oscar Meyer Weiner Mobile!" I shouted excitedly. I'm not sure which was more embarrassing to Mrs. VCH: that I knew what this rolling psuedo-phallic-looking contrivance was, or that I was that excited to see it.

We stopped for lunch somewhere just west of Wheeling, WV in Ohio. It's nice to actually take a break and enjoy some real food, rather than stuffing crackers and jerky into our maws at 78 miles per hour. Small child enjoyed the opportunity to burn off some energy running around, too.

IMG_20151206_140252

After lunch I picked up driving and we continued through Ohio. This meant my wife was now in charge of the in-car photography. Here, you can see her skillful capture of the Indiana state line:

IMG_20151206_172348

She's a real Ansel Adams.

Somewhere southwest of Indianapolis we found a small Italian restaurant and stopped for lasagna and salad. It was about 8PM when we left. Illinois was so close, and we'd seen signs for Effingham with it's promises of "17 hotels and 65 restaurants!" a mere 100 miles further. So we pressed on.

This was likely a poor decision, in retrospect. Between Cloverton, Indiana, and Effingham, Illinois, Mella, rather than taking the opportunity to nap in the car, decided to go thermonuclear. I couldn't plop down my credit card at the Super 8 fast enough. Of course, being as tired as she was, Small Child wouldn't go right to sleep. Oh no. We had to play DISCO DANCE PARTY in the motel room until about 11PM. Or maybe it was 10, because of the time zone change. Either way, we eventually all fell asleep, and slept for like 9 hours.

In the daylight, Effingham, Illinois looks basically like this:

IMG_20151207_102629

America!

And I discovered that Mrs. VCH has once again proven her exceptional picture-taking abilities with this lifelike rendering of the Illinois state line marker:

IMG_20151206_210922

EDIT: My wife points out that it was raining, and dark, when she took that picture. And she did take a very pretty picture of the sunset in Indiana.

So, we're back on I-70 now, bombing towards St. Louis at 79-1/2 miles per hour. We covered 716 miles yesterday, but the remainder of the trip will hopefully be a bit more relaxed. Spirits are up, coffee is being consumed, and Mella's sawing logs in the back.

Robbie
Robbie SuperDork
12/7/15 11:53 a.m.

Awesome!

mazdeuce
mazdeuce PowerDork
12/7/15 12:37 p.m.

More (blurry) pictures! I'll be driving perpendicular to you through that part of the country in an couple of weeks.
We've spotted the weinermobile 4 or five times in the wild. My heart races every time. If you ever get s chance to poke around one, inside and underneath, do it. They're put together well.

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
12/7/15 5:09 p.m.
tpwalsh wrote: I'm not sure which way you're headed down 66, but I have a well equipped garage(and a place to crash for the night) in Bloomington/Normal, IL if you get in a bind. Looks like it'll be great fun! Post lots of pictures!

Thanks for the offer, appreciate it. We picked up 66 at the Arch in STL, so we missed Illinois. And, fortunately knock on wood Lucy has been running flawlessly.

JohnRW1621
JohnRW1621 MegaDork
12/7/15 7:46 p.m.

Earlier, in a restaurant and reading your tale, I let out an awkward, laugh/giggle/noise when I read the Ansel Adams comment.
Well done!

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