Dear Friends, after 4 years we’re finally doing it! It’s really happening this time, I promise! Brendon received his visa after so much paperwork and fees, prayers, and 3 trips to Montreal, and so our family, which has doubled during the wait (hey, life happens!) will be making a long, looooong road trip across the continent from Prince Edward Island to southern California in just a few weeks.
Since receiving the news that he was approved [::happy dance::] we have been filled with such mixed emotions: disbelief at first, excitement, apprehension, jubilation, and feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the details we’ll have to work out to make this happen as smoothly as possible. No doubt it’s a lot of work even if it was just for the two of us grown adults, but we have the additional challenge (and joy) of adding a precocious 2 year old toddler and an 8 month old baby to the mix. We’re giving ourselves around 10 days give or take to make the 53+ hour trip so we can enjoy it and treat it as a little family vacation.
I have to admit when I get a breather from all the busyness of planning, packing, mommying and have a few minutes to reflect while rocking Audrey to sleep, I look back on these past 5 years and it is bitter sweet to be closing this chapter of our lives here in Prince Edward Island. This is where our family started. Here we promised each other forever, moved from home to home due to our premature inklings that the visa was coming in “any day now” and to accommodate our family as it grew. Here we first became parents and felt what it was like to have a part of our heart swaddled and cooing in our arms. Then we did it all again and our hearts almost burst with love as we welcomed our sweet baby girl, and pride as watched Dominic as he grew into his role as “oppa” (older brother) with such tenderness and spunk. Here we formed friendships we’ll treasure all our lives; had so many laughs and songs over a good mug of local beer and music at kitchen parties, family reunions, and local concerts. How will we not miss Sunday brunches at Grandma and Grandpa’s? Christmases and Easters and everything in between that they made so special? Having fireworks on our anniversary for the last 5 years since it also happened to be Canada Day as well as the feast of the Sacred Heart the day we got married? We’ll miss the unadulterated beautiful white-sanded beaches of the north and the cozy, warm, red-sanded beaches of the south with their magnificent view of the Confederation bridge. From here we discovered the beauty of the Maritimes in its people, its land, its culture, food, and music. Here we forged bonds with our family members that will carry us through any storm. Here I grew to love this vast land to the North which is Canada. We love you all. We’ll never forget the roots our family has formed on this Gentle Island.
For now though we have our sights set on that golden coast, a dream we’ve had since those first hand-holding, starry-eyed days as husband and wife (who am I kidding, we still do that). We’ve decided that the most economic way to get there would be to drive, taking with us the essentials and importing a vehicle to use since we’ll need one anyways. Providence has it that we’ve found a good deal on a used Honda Odyssey so we’ve said good-bye to our first car as a couple (the one we bought the day before our wedding), “Ol Bertha” as Brendon had nicknamed her, and upgraded to a bigger vehicle that can better fit the needs of our family. We’ve been doing a lot of this thing called “adult-ing” lately.
So my dear friends, as we look to map out our crazy adventure we see two main routes: one that goes through Quebec and Toronto into Michigan and one that crosses the border into Maine and heads west through New York. Which one should we take?
We’re looking for your input! Please share with us your suggestions, insights, advice for travelling with such little ones (what things you found were life savers), what to avoid or best places to visit (and let a toddler run all his energy out), food joints we shouldn’t miss and the like! Here are few questions we’d love you to weigh in on!
- We’ll be on the road by July 4. Suggestions on where to spend it? We’d love to have a great view of fireworks! This will be the first Independence Day we’ll be celebrating in the US in the last 5 years!
- Are there any routes/highways/cities/states we should avoid due to construction, bad traffic, mean cops, bad weather, or for any other reasons?
- Where do you suggest we stay? Care to share any good or bad experiences at staying in certain areas, hotels etc? We’re hoping we can mostly stay with friends along the way but if we’re in the middle of nowhere, it helps to keep these things in mind. 🙂
- What are some must-sees? Must visits? Great stops for families with young kiddos? Any dining places/experiences that are not to be missed?
- What are great things to pack to have on hand for traveling in the car with little ones? For eating while on the road?
- Moving tips: what to take, what to leave behind? How to pack the back of a minivan efficaciously to fit the most stuff?
- Any other tips or funny stories you’d to share?
- Lastly, we’d love to visit some of you while we are passing through! So if you’d like to house some weary but so-happy-to-see-you travellers, and the cutest kids you’ll lay your eyes on (I’m biased I know…I’m supposed to be as a parent, right?) please let us know! We’ll route our trip accordingly as long as it’s not too far south or north and we can steadily head westward. 🙂
I promise to do a better job documenting and sharing pictures and stories as we prepare for this crazy ride and of our travels once we hit the open road! Stay tuned!