Museums From Our Roadtrip Vacation

The days are long gone of Alex and I setting our own agenda. The Cylonettes run the show, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. (Did you know that Naomi means ‘must sleep in the big bed’, and Zoey ‘awake at first light’. No, I didn’t either otherwise I’d have called them something like ‘Sleeps Late’ and ‘Likes To Sleep Alone’.)

The heat and humidity were pretty extreme when we were down in Raleigh so there wasn’t much of a chance to go for walks, and explore the city. That was a shame as I love nothing more than an aimless wander around to soak up the atmosphere but that of course was pre-Cylonette, and now everything needs thought out. We can’t just wing it. (Okay, we can but there is a strong chance that it will end in tears, and the stress is just not worth it.)

We stuck to seeing museums, and that kept everyone cool (thanks to the AC) and happy. I love museums, especially art museums with nice cafes (and restaurants), wifi and a decent permanent collection. As long as we feed the girls and ourselves when we first get to the museum the girls will tolerate being wheeled and carried around for an hour or so. Bliss.

On the drive down from New Jersey we stopped at Annapolis (cue silly photos) and Virginia Museum of Fine Art which is one of the best art museums I’ve ever been to (we loved it so much we stopped there again on the way back) .

In the Navy

We thought about enlisting Zoey whilst she slept

VMFA slays, and a visit here was far more enjoyable than the Met or even the Lourve. Oh yes! Firstly, it has a great collection, and it’s so large (with automatic sliding Star Trek doors) that it was easy to manoeuvre the stroller.  Secondly, the cafe and restaurant are excellent. We had tasty, relaxing meals in both, and the staff were super friendly with the girls. And finally, a kick ass shop (I don’t get out much so it’s nice to look at pretty things). I would really love to come back when the girls are older, and with my mum (who also appreciates a nicely laid out museum with good food).

Relaxing lunch

Post lunch play

Cylonette on the loose

Taking in the ART (whilst checking Twitter)

VMFA grounds (too hot to explore but gorg!)

In Raleigh actual we went around the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and the adjacent National Research Center (which has real scientists working away on show just like in Jurassic Park), and the North Carolina Museum of Art (though they don’t mention it on the website there is a little cafe there). All three NC museums were great. The science ones were a little more crowded as it is the school holidays but it still was fairly easy to wander around.

“To really appreciate ART one must be out of the stroller” Naomi

Road Trip: NJ to NC (hour-by-hour)

Hour 0: Barely light out

Hour 1: Sleeping

Hour 2: Still sleeping

Hour 3: Awake!

Hour 4: The meltdown

Hour 5: Breakfast

Hour 6: Enlisting (@ Annapolis)

Hour 7: Chewing

Hour 8: Don’t ask

Hour 9: Double downers

Hour 10: Lunch @ Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Hour 11: Greek and Roman galleries

Hour 12: Post-museum slash milk crash

Hour 13: We all start to loose it

Hour 14: Post-last supper in a car park in NC

Hour 15: Staying up late and getting into trouble

 

Some thoughts on long road trips with babies

On Sunday we got back from our summer “vacation” – a road trip down to North Carolina to visit friends there, and some more on the way back. Despite the zillion hours we spent in the car it was a fun and relaxing break. I will try hard to blog about our trip properly later this week (ha!) but in the meantime here are a few thoughts/tips on long road trips with babies.

1. Start as early as possible, and pack the car the night before

We got up at 4am, and we’re on the road by 4:40am. We actually started packing up the car two nights before we left. Not only did this mean we could leave quickly on the actual day but we also didn’t have an apartment full of luggage and boxes for us to fall over. We brought the car seats up the night before, and after we’d showered and our coffee had brewed we got the girls out of bed and popped them in their seats. As soon as we got into the car I gave them a bottle, and they fell back asleep.

Stuffed!

2. Work with your baby’s schedule

On any car trip there will be crying, and on long trips there will be plenty of crying. Thankfully the Cylonettes took turns at having melt downs so we didn’t have to listen to it in stereo. The girls day has a pretty regular flow to it so it was fairly easy to coincide the long stops with proper meal breaks, and then give them their bottles when we were on the move.

3. Long and short stops are key

With infants, small children, pets and adults with small bladders you’ll need to be flexible about stopping. We planned two long breaks (about two hours a piece) on the way down and were prepared to make umpteen short stops along the way. Some families might just power through the trip and only stop at road side rest stops we on the other hand wanted proper stops so that we could eat real food, and have a walk about. It broke up the long drive, we all felt more rested, and it tired the Cylonettes out so it made it easier to nap back in the car.

Short stop

 

Long stop

4. Pack smart

You don’t want to dig through all your luggage to get clean clothes, bottles and formula so make sure you have your diaper bag fully stocked for a day and night (just in case something happens) on the road. We had one mishap when Naomi had a poo explosion, and Alex pulled over to change her and discovered there wasn’t a spare outfit to hand. Instead of digging one out we put her back in her car sear in just the diaper and a furry blanket. Since I was sitting in the back the whole time, squished between two car seats, I had a cooler in one foot well stocked with bottles and drinks for the adults, and in the other a bag of toys to wave at the girls.

Ooops

5. Be nice

Be nice to the driver as they are not getting an easy ride for being upfront. Be nice to the parent in the back as it’s not their fault that the baby won’t stop crying. Be nice to the babies as they didn’t ask to be stuffed in a car for hours on end.

Fake-cation report

(Okay, that’s a little strong. Our vacation to the UK wasn’t a complete fake-cation because whilst you don’t get much rest traveling with twinfants I wasn’t left alone with them for 11 hour stretches. So I had two weeks of “half” the workload (wooo hoo!) and Alex had plenty of time with the Cylonettes.)

Coming into Edinburgh

We had an amazing time in the UK, and despite the Sisyphian effort that it took to keep the Cylonettes on an even keel as they were surrounded by strangers (we stood up a lot) I am so glad that we went over and shared them with family and friends when they are at this stage. Next time I’m over they will be toddling, and ordering lattes so their baby days will be well and truly behind them.

In the two weeks we were in the UK we fitted in a lot. It was like the 12 labors of Hercules but with more cake and no 4G coverage. The girls were introduced to their full compliment of grandparents, and many great aunts, great uncles and second cousins, and a health sprinkling of friends. They held up remarkably well, and Zoey even found the time to figure out how to flip over onto her belly (little did we know that that would bring us to a new circle of hell).

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