Alright, so the title is a bit grandiose, but we did drive over 3,000 miles in an RV in less than a week, with four adults and six children six and under. It was wild.
When my brother informed us that he was going to be getting married in October in Boise, our little family had just returned from our road trip to Colorado. Although the trip was fun and totally worth it, the drive back was…unpleasant, and both me and Nic swore up and down it would be years before we subjected ourselves to that again. Years! But here we were, faced with a 20 hour drive in a few short months. Getting back in the van again with our little angels was not an option so we started researching other options. Flying is pretty expensive to Boise so we thought, “Why not rent an RV?”. After doing a little research we discovered that renting an RV is pretty spendy, so we thought, “Why not get some people to split it with us?”. We zeroed in on my sister and my dad as likely candidates. My sister also has three small children which meant that traveling was logistically difficult for her too, and my dad is a truck driver who has often talked about traveling around the United States in an RV for fun. They were both game and to make a long story short, my dad bought an RV instead of us renting an RV.
David’s wedding was Friday Oct. 10th. Our final travel itinerary looked something like this:
Wed, Oct. 8- Thur, Oct. 9: Meet our fellow travelers in Fargo Wed. evening and drive straight through to Boise, arriving in time for the grooms supper at 6:30 Thursday night.
Fri, Oct. 10 – Sat, Oct. 11: Wedding festivities and an extra day with other family members.
Sun, Oct. 12: Drive to Grand Teton National Park.
Mon, Oct. 13: Drive through Grand Teton and Yellowstone Park, eat supper in Bozeman and drive through the night to Watford City, ND.
Tue, Oct. 14: Breakfast in Watford City, a brief stop in Dickinson to see Aunt Linda, and arrive back in Fargo at supper time.
My dad brought the RV to our house the week before we left so we could get it packed. When we took off on Wednesday afternoon Clark was pretty excited to not be in his car seat.
Smith got comfortable and promptly fell asleep on the couch.
A picture of the older kids with the RV. From L to R: Smith (2), JJ (3), Micah (5), Grace (6), Remy (6).
When we met my sister and dad in Fargo it was supper time, so we grabbed a bunch of chicken nuggets and french fries to eat on the road. Clark goes to bed pretty early to make sure he can fit 2-3 night time bottle feedings before the morning, so I crawled in the back with him right away to try to get some sleep before his first bottle and to prepare for keeping Nic company while he drove later in the night.
I thought the first night went really well. My dad did most of the driving but during Nic’s shift I got up to keep him company. Clark actually slept really well, going right back to sleep after his bottles which was something I was worried about. We rolled into Bozeman around 7 in the morning, later than my kids almost ever sleep at home. When Clark woke up he was so happy and excited I was a little taken aback.
Typically he is pretty upset when away from his familiar home environment.
After eating breakfast, picking up David’s bike at his former college, and grabbing a coffee, we hit the road again. The kids were in pretty good spirits and were too busy playing to be bothered with looking outside which irked us adults to no end.
We were hoping to make it to a rest stop in Idaho, that is the site of a former Volcano, for lunch. But the kids got a little hangry before we made it there so we stopped in Rexburg, ID at a park so they could run their wiggles off.
Clark got out for some fresh air too.
I have no pictures of the remainder of the day but it went fairly well until the last hour or so. The kids still did pretty good but my nerves were fried from being in an enclosed area with them for so long, and it was getting hot and the air conditioner wasn’t working and if you know me, you know I need my climate control. Not to mention I really, really needed a shower. We rolled into Boise around 6, but we needed to get our rental car and check into our hotel before we made it over to the grooms supper. Eventually, we made it to the grooms supper, albeit late and still very greasy (at least we had changed out of our pajamas!). My sister and her kids stayed at a rental house with some other family members while we spent the first two nights in a hotel in order to give our kids a little space in hopes that it would help the remainder of the trip not get too crazy. The first night we were all so tired that even Clark slept through the night, for only the fourth time ever. Yes, I am keeping track.
You already saw the pictures from the wedding on Friday but while I was off taking pictures and having fun, Nic was on his own with the boys. When I left that morning, I inadvertently took all of our cash with me. Also, right before we left for our trip our bank sent us new debit cards so Nic had left his old one at home and activated his card in an atm, or so he thought. When he went to use it on Friday to pay for lunch it wouldn’t work. So I left him with no cash, no food, and three rambunctious little boys. I was a half hour away at that point too. I didn’t have my phone close to me either so it took awhile for Nic to get in contact with me. Thankfully I had saved the activation phone number and was able to send that to Nic so he could get his card activated. To top off his already stressful day, our rental car essentially broke down and he had to exchange it for another one. O, and of course get the boys fed and dressed in time for pictures. But he did it and I am so thankful for him and his help so that I could be available to take the photos.
Saturday morning we packed up our hotel and moved over to the rental house that my dad had rented. Tina stayed there with her kids, along with my dad, my brother and his wife, and another brother and his wife who returned home on Saturday opening up a bedroom for us. My dad rented through VRBO.com and the house was so wonderful! It had 5 bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths. It had been remodeled and had a fantastic kitchen, two living areas complete with toys in the basement for kids, and a fenced backyard with a patio.
Before we went over to the house we met up with some extended family and had lunch at a fun Asian restaurant. That afternoon we did laundry (the perks of renting a house!), let the kids do their own thing, and relaxed. Nic’s aunt and uncle drove over from Oregon to see us so we grilled hotdogs for supper and used the cake they brought to celebrate my brother Andy’s upcoming birthday.
Sunday we packed the RV, cleaned up the house and hit the road, hoping to make it past Jackson, WY and to the edge of Grand Teton National Park.
We stopped at a rest area in Idaho to eat lunch and let the kids run. While there my dad discovered that the somehow the outlet to the black water had been open enough to allow water from the toilet to leak out. There was bits of toilet paper all over the mud flaps and Dad figured that must have been why everyone put on their wipers after they passed us. It was comical.
We took the scenic route once we got to the edge of Idaho, which means we took a crazy, windy, narrow and steep highway. It was beautiful but a little nerve wracking in an RV, and it began to snow once we got closer to the summit.
We stopped at the summit for a photo op. It was too cold for me though, so I snapped a quick picture of my dad with Clark,
And another of the view, before I hopped back in the warm RV.
Because our travel plans had changed quite a bit in preparation for this trip, we did not make any hotel or campground reservations ahead of time. We intended to get a hotel room for our family and a campsite for the RV where Tina and her kids would stay with Dad. After looking around online while driving to Wyoming it became apparent that since this was the tail end of the season, a lot of hotels were already closed. I ended up finally finding a hotel in Moran, WY that was still open and not extremely expensive. We decided, at the last minute, to get two rooms instead of just one and skip the campsite. When I called back to add the second room I asked if they had another one available or just the one I reserved before, the guy kind of snickered and said, “O, we have room for you!”. It turns out the night we stayed there was the last night they were open for the season so they definitely had room.
I forgot to take any pictures but we stayed at The Hatchet Resort and it was adorable. The rooms were small but very clean with new bathrooms, and the beds were so comfortable!
There was frost on the ground when we got up in the morning, but as we started the drive the sun was out and the view was spectacular.
We took away the toys and coloring books in an effort to get the kids to look outside their window and see the spectacular scenery. Smith settled in on the couch with his blankie and promptly fell asleep while the rest of the kids bounced around the dinette.
We only stopped in Grand Teton to take a couple of quick pictures since we were hoping to stop at a few places in Yellowstone and still make it to Bozeman in time for supper.
The first place we stopped in Yellowstone was at West Thumb. It was cold. I got out our winter stuff and I was still cold. The topography was really interesting with the pools and geysers steaming. There was quite the warren of pathways leading around the area and out to the lake. We didn’t get very far in before deciding we were all cold enough that we didn’t really feel the need to see much more.
The whole group minus me.
Probably our first family picture of us with the boys since Clark was born.
I bundled up Clark and put him in the Boba carrier and he stayed pretty warm, although he is always irritated to be facing in towards me so that he can’t see where we are walking.
Perhaps the funniest part of this stop was when, while standing at the entrance to the pathway, we were descended upon by a bus full of Asian tourists. They were smitten with the kids and took picture after picture with them. Some just standing with us while others snapped a picture, and some would pick up whatever kid struck their fancy and hold them while smiling and chattering away excitedly. It went on for quite awhile and was hilarious. When they finally dispersed, Dad tried to take a picture of our group but a couple of stragglers were walking by and one hopped in the picture with us.
I don’t have any pictures of the remainder of the day. But we did stop at Old Faithful, although I didn’t get out since I was trying to get Clark to nap, and the others did not get to see it erupt. Nic attempted some fishing but that is another story in and of itself.
I can definitely understand why some people take a week to spend in Yellowstone. There is so much to see and do. I would love to go back when the kids are older and explore more. I do think that one day was enough for the kids at their age though. Most of them were still a little young to care much about the scenery or understand the significance of some of the park.
After meeting up with an old friend of Nic’s for supper in Bozeman we drove through the night to Watford City. My sister had lived in Watford City while her husband worked in the oilfields. She was able to meet with a friend for breakfast and the detour was really interesting since I had not been in that area of North Dakota since before the oil boom really took off.
We had been on the road since Sunday and by Tuesday morning we were all starting to feel a little tired.
After stopping in Watford we headed to Dickinson to see my Aunt Linda. She lives in Arizona but has a boyfriend in Dickinson so since she was there we thought we should take advantage of it and drop in.
After a brief visit we hit the road for the last stretch of the trip.
The kids were squirrelly, the adults were tired, and we were all looking forward to getting home. We had made it 3,000 miles with no major mishaps when Grace got carsick and threw up only an hour from Fargo. Thankfully it was easy to clean up and we were back on the road quickly.
We arrived in Fargo around supper time and dropped Tina and Dad off at their vehicles. We ordered a pizza to eat for supper and went to find a place to dump the black water from the RV. We spent the better part of an hour trying to find one and get that taken care of before we finally were able to hit the road again for the last 90 minutes of drive time.
Although I grew up on the road, riding in the truck with my dad, traveling in an RV was a different and fun experience. The best part was not having the kids in car seats, especially Clark, and we probably cut the amount of times we stopped at least in half by having a bathroom on board for all of the little bladders. Not to mention the convenience of having a kitchen and the money we saved by bringing along most of our own food. The kids did better than I thought they would. There was a normal amount of fighting and whining but nothing that would not have normally occurred. My nerves were a little frayed by the time we got home from being in such a small space with little kids for a prolonged amount of time, but it was so much better than it would have been in the van.
Many thanks to my dad who bought the RV, paid for the fuel, and kept his cool while six rambunctious children and three frazzled adults bounced around in the back. Not many people could do that and say at the end of the trip, “Lets do it again!”.