We are on the road and it feels so good 🙂 I am writing this 2021 trip leaving email while sitting in the van near Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio. We set up our tent for the first night of camping. First, let’s do a quick update and give out some thank you shoutouts.
A lot of people to thank
Since the last update on Sept 14, 2021, we have been busy completing the move from our house, selling our 2017 Chevy Traverse, and seeing how much stuff one family can fit into a minivan. Spoiler…it is both too much and still not everything we wanted.
There are so many people we want to thank. I am sure we are missing some people (our apologies) but here is a brief list of the ones that come to mind:
- Matt & Rachelle Waterman for giving us a room in their amazing house in Waunakee, WI from which we can base ourselves and be when we are “back home.”
- Thad Waterman for items too numerous to mention and helping with our mail and things to be done while we are gone, plus getting his passport for any emergency situations
- Bill & Sheri Waterman for helping us to store items, use the truck and trailer for the move, and with other items
- Janann Ambrosy and Rick Kenny for helping to store our stuff
- Lisa & Tom Hast for all the general support and advice
- Nicole and Pat Richey for general help during the house sale and lending us an air mattress when we sold our King Bed before the move
Readying for 2021 Trip Leaving
Since the last update we did the following:
- September 15, 2021 – officially sold the Traverse to Carvana.com; this was the last big item we had to sell before we left
- We were also selling smaller items up to a couple days before we moved
- September 16 to 18, 2021 – we moved items to Janann’s and Rick’s to prep for the big move
- Sept 19 – we got the truck and trailer from Brock’s mom and dad and took a load to their house; also dropped off the kids for their last stay with Na Na & Pa Pa
- Sept 20, 2021 we packed all of our items (somehow – Becky did amazing) into the trailer, truck bed, and minivan and drove to Waunakee. With Matt and Rachelle’s help we unloaded what was staying at their house and put everything else in the trailer.
- Sept 21, 2021 we took the truck and trailer back to Boscobel and got everything put away at Bill and Sheri’s house. We also got the kids and came back to Waunakee.
- Sept 22, we got the needed items for camping including an epic search for what twin mattress Brock will use while camping
- September 23, 2021 we spent the day finishing paperwork, test packing the van, and preparing in other ways
2021 Trip Leaving
Now onto the good stuff, the travel! We officially hit the road on Friday, September 24 at around 11:30 am. It took several attempts and a lot of items left behind, but we finally got everything into the van. We were so excited to finally be on the trip. It was the culmination of over a year’s worth of planning, selling, and many tough decisions/conversations. We felt like a huge weight was lifted off our shoulders.
We had previously decided that we would be going East on this trip, at least originally. Past that not much else was planned. We love the outdoors and hiking so we knew our first destination would be Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio. However, that was around 9 to 10 hours of driving away. On the first day, we drove to Toledo, which put us about 2 hours from the park. Our first attempt at frugal hotel nights was a fail…
We didn’t have a set location for the first night because we did not know how far we would get or even wanted to drive. Chicago traffic was not amazing and caused us some lost time (around 30 to 45 minutes). However, once we were about 30 miles into Indiana the traffic improved.
Needing a Hotel
We started looking for a hotel about two-thirds the way across Indiana. We were on highway 80, which is a toll road. There were surprisingly few options available for us and most were fairly high-priced. While still in Indiana, we concluded that the best option was probably to go to Toledo, which is pretty far into Ohio. Normally this would not have been a problem. But with the time change and extra time in Chicago it was getting dark as we started into Ohio.
We did other online searches, but the best options were clearly in Toledo, so we decided to push through. We were lucky because the kids were so well-behaved. One thing that helped was we have saved the cool surprise of the TV being in the minivan for this trip. We showed it to them around 6 pm on this day. So they were enjoying having a TV in the vehicle even as night fell. This helped to keep the are we there yet questions to a minimum.
Our First Hotel Doesn’t Work
When we finally got to Toledo at around 8 pm we went to the Motel 6. This looked like a decent option. Just to be safe we did not book online ahead of time so that we could view the room before paying. This was a smart choice because the room we were shown was bad. It had what I can best describe as the combination of smoke and mold I have smelled. On the upside, the front desk person was nice enough to let Kyra use the employee bathroom so we appreciated that…
At this point, we were back to square one and we needed food because everyone was hungry. This is where it helps to split tasks. While I had been in looking at the room with Kyra, Becky had stayed in the car and was looking for food options online. She found a place to get food very close to where we were. So we decided the next step was to get food. While we waited for food I did a new search. I found a Country Inn & Suites that had a special. It included Breakfast for about $25 more than the Motel 6, so we booked it happily. Having stayed at these before I was not worried about the room quality. At this point in the night, this seemed like a smart trade-off. We booked it via Hotels.com to get the rewards for it.
Arriving at the Hotel
When we arrived at this hotel it was great because we got right in, had an amazing room, and got free oatmeal creme pies to wash down the amazing meal, Becky had found for us. The kids were starving and excited to eat. While we ate we video-called parents at home and got set up for the first night in the hotel. Kyra was very excited to announce to everyone that her mom would be so happy. This was because Becky didn’t have to make breakfast the next day since it was included in the hotel price. It is funny what our kids get excited about 🙂
After eating the kids got to do some things they loved. This was great because they needed the attention after the long day:
- Help get ice from the machine
- Ride the luggage cart pretending it was a choo choo train
- Do physical therapy by Brock on his yoga mat, while laughing the whole time
It was a great end to a productive day. And the upside was that we would start the next day only 2 hours from Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Written: 9/25/2021 (mostly)
Posted: 9/28/2021, 1/22/2022 (updated for SEO)
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