"winter" california style.
So we took our 8 month old to California in January... that's about a 12 hour drive from Boise, Idaho to the Bay Area in California. (Winter driving with a baby... not ideal.)
I was nervous to say the least. How was this going to work?! I scoured the internet trying to find blog posts about driving advice- do we stay half way? do we drive through the night? how do we feed her? what if she cries for 12 straight hours? should we just fly? is this even worth it?
Well, we made it. And it was wonderful. Or rather... much more wonderful than I anticipated. So, I thought I should answer a few of those questions right here, based on our trip in case it helps anyone out there...
1. Should we stop half way?
Well, we did both. The drive out we drove straight through... making only enough stops to get gas and stretch tiny legs in the gas station while changing diapers. The drive back we stopped 1/2ish way in Reno, NV for the night. The drive straight through was perfect. Cora did amazing, it was relatively short and sweet and we were at the grandparents house in no time at all. No lingering on the road.
For next time: I would stay 1/2 way but not stay in a casino. Those places are smokey, and I felt like an awful parent just walking through the casino lobby to get to our 5th floor smoke-free cheap hotel room. Sure it was nice, but seriously. Smoking in a hotel?! Bad idea. So next time we will really splurge and stay at a holiday inn express. But I also would do the straight through thing again too.
2. How do you feed the babe?
We chose to sit in the back seat...alternate who drove. Then we would feed her little pouches of food, snacks, and bottles. She fed really well in her infant seat, it was easy- no choking like I had read about. I told matt that if she choked I would yell at him to pull over fast, and I would be prepared with baby-Heimlich with the fastest un-buckling you've ever seen. It never came to that. CPR certification not utilized this road trip. We also had a sweet Aladdin 1970's thermos with a push spout thing. Anyways, we put warm water in it when we left Idaho... and pre-made about 6 bottles with 3 scoops of formula, with nipples... ready to just add water. So we squirted the warm water in the bottles in the back seat- warm bottles. DONE. easy peasy.
3. What was the drive like?
We kind of cycled just like at home... we would feed her...then play a little...read books. Then when it was nap time we would just both sit up front in the car and let her doze off. If she was asleep we did not stop. Running on fumes- who cares. Need to go to the bathroom? Nope. No waking baby. It worked well, we played a little gregory alan isakov or andrew bird...on repeat like 20 times. It worked. We also stopped at starbucks more often than not... I'd rather run around a starbucks, get a caffeine fix...than mcdonalds.
Side note: changing your baby in a bathroom without a changing table is HELL. I felt like verbally assaulting the managers at multiple pit stops for not having one. I also felt it was only fair to hand over our diarrhea-ridden child to them...and say...good luck. Tell me how it goes in there. I got skills though... changing a tiny wiggly bottom mid-air... with wipes, desitin, and a clean diaper. I felt accomplished after leaving those restrooms. I really am a mom, hell yeah.
4. Should we just drive through the night?
This was an option in our minds. She sleeps through the night, why not let her whole drive just be asleep? How sweet is that. Well, it's not. Winter driving... 2 lane roads... black ice...SCARY. We opted for safety for this trip and wanted to do all driving on rural roads during the daytime. It was great- because we actually had fog and minimal visibility for a few hours in south eastern oregon...so much less stressful with daylight.
5. Should we just fly?
1.5 hours vs 12 hours. hmmm... tempting. We wanted a car to carry our christmas presents, so we drove. It was also nice to have our car while we visited friends/family in california. But we definitely threw around some fun ideas- cora and I fly out, matt drives... picks us up... Yeah. No. It was worth it.
6. Did she cry for 12 straight hours?
No. Not possible. She would surely have tired her little self out. See, we have a baby who hates the car seat, so we thought this would be quite possible. She did cry a little... like in traffic. And of course it was more stressful than a drive pre-cora. But it was great. She was consolable... and it wasn't because she was uncomfortable for sitting so long. She was awesome. Chicco carseat worked great. We also had a huge bag full of her most favorite toys, along with some brand new ones, books, gadgets to mess with, and lots of snacks. She was a happy road trip baby. There was no need to stress so much.
So... we will surely do this again, probably this summer with more excitement than worry. We are even looking forward to camping in the back of the truck...one big bed... 3 humans, a few dogs....open wilderness. There will be more posts about this too, I am sure.
Good luck family travelers... let me know if you have any advice about camping with a baby!