Set in Stone – Summer Roadtrip 2012 is Finally Taking Shape!

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Stone may not necessarily be the right word.  We have established a game plan, booked hotels, and projected where we’ll be when as we journey to Seattle to board the Disney Wonder for our cruise to Alaska!

The plan going out –

Leave June 21st – well, at least some of us.  Brighid and Eilis are going to fly out later due to work obligations (in Brighid’s case) and obligations not to have to endure a four day road trip with her crazy parents (Eilis’ case).  The plan has us leaving at some outrageous hour of the morning – like before Starbucks is even open.  Who does that?  We’ll drive like lunatics and end the first day in Racine, WI.

Day 2 – This is an interesting day.  North Dakota is our ultimate destination.  Did you know there really was a North Dakota?  Apparently, very few hotel chains knew.  We originally booked a Marriott in Fargo, but when Jim realized we wouldn’t be completely bleary eyed by the time we hit Fargo, he decided to bump us ahead to Bismarck.  Kelly Inn, Bismarck, ND – here we come!

Day 3 – Ummm, did I mention we want to be in Seattle in only four days?  By this day, I anticipate nerves will be fried.

After another wake up call at NoOneShouldBeUpThisEarlyUnlessTheyAreGoingToMakeTheDoughnuts o’clock will give us time to get to Missoula, Montana by just after dinner.  If we arrive earlier, we’ll do something touristy.  Is there anything to see in Missoula, MT?

Day 4 – My well rested, well relaxed older children will be arriving in Seattle around 10:30 AM.  We don’t expect to arrive until closer to dinner time.  I’ll probably take the time when we get there to do laundry, because everyone who has spent four straight days in a car wants to do laundry.

Of course, this plan is subject to change.  Well, except the doing laundry part.

I’m so glad our first day of the cruise is at sea.  My behind will be so sore, I won’t be able to sit up to see anything!

Summer 2012 Cross Cruiseapalooza Planning Begins!

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Where were we?  Oh yes!  The family has decided to drive cross country to Seattle to board the Disney Wonder for that Alaska cruise.  So obviously, we were just this side short of sanity.

Skamarakas family cross country trips have been incredibly interesting.  The last one we took was dubbed the DNA Tour.  It was a lesson in making sure everyone went to the bathroom BEFORE we hit a mountain or desert, AND it was a lesson in watching what you feed people before you get to the Grand Canyon so no one has to puke, right at sunset, on the Grand Canyon.  Had there been a nation-wide crime spree, perpetrated by a crazed family in a minivan, we left enough DNA evidence between here and the west coast that we’d all be in Sing-Sing solitary as I speak.

The first piece of the puzzle is what car are we taking.  Our family has two – our minivan and Brighid’s Mini Cooper.  I for one am always up for a challenge, but I’m reasonably certain that I won’t fit the shoes I need for the cruise in the back of the Mini.  So it seems like a no-brainer, right?  The minivan.  That’s where Jim steps in and says, “We can rent a car that gets better gas mileage and save the wear and tear on the minivan.”  On our last cross country trip, we ended up in a Jeep Grand Cherokee that POSSIBLY got one mile more per gallon than our minivan; was painfully uncomfortable; had way less storage space; and had a driver’s side window that wouldn’t roll down.  I know what you’re thinking – how did Anna get her Starbucks with no drive through availability?  Thank you for thinking of me.  I managed.  This time around, we’ll check the windows before we get to Ohio; and if possible, we’ll check out the comfort level well in advance so we know we won’t have hineys hurting in the back seat.

I’m thinking the best plan of action will have us hitting Chicago our first day – maybe as far as Milwaukee.  If there’s a festival, Milwaukee may be the way to go; and if it’s Milwaukee, there’s probably a festival!  We could wake up early, do a little sightseeing, then hit the road for somewhere in North Dakota.  I spent much of my teen years denying the existence of North Dakota – it was my version of teen rebellion (I belonged to the Flat Earth Society, too) – but I digress.  After another night of sleep, a quick tour around some points of North Dakotan interest (that should be a quick tour, no?), we’ll hit the road again head for parts in west Montana.  That will be our last stay before arriving in Seattle, which should give us a full day to play with – so if we end up stuck in traffic behind a herd of buffalo (buffali??), we should still make the ship in plenty of time.

So send me your suggestions – where to go, what to see, who to visit!

North to Alaska – and Whatever Else We Can See In Between!

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I always have these grand intentions of building fabulous trip reports, and every time we take an awesome vacation, I go into it saying “I think I can; I think I can; I think I can” – and then I don’t.

Let’s approach this from a different angle – let’s start talking about it now, and maybe by June, when I actually take the trip, I’ll be more motivated to finish the conversation!  So let’s get started – come plan this trip with me!

Here are the basics:

We have to be onboard the Disney Wonder on June 25, 2012 – that’s only 252 days away!  Thank God we’re going to Alaska – I’ll never get into a bikini by then!!  We board in Seattle, WA.

We’ve chosen second seating because it gives us time to eat breakfast, second breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, second lunch, afternoon tea, and an evening snack before dinner.  We’d miss at least the evening snack if we did main seating dining!  Actually, we prefer second seating for a number of reasons.  We never feel we have to rush to get ready after a day of excursions, and if a kid comes back needing a nap, there’s time before dinner to do that.  We’re also more inclined to get to the shows if we go to them before dinner, as after dinner, you are so full and tired from a big day of adventure, you might decide just to turn in.  I also like that on some of our Disney cruises, the kids will get picked up by the kids’ club staff at second seating, and they will be escorted to their club for evening activities.  This gives Mom and Dad a chance to eat dinner with the kids, but also have some time to themselves to linger over a cup of tea and dessert.

Our itinerary:

Day One: Seattle, Washington

Day Two: At Sea

Day Three: Tracy Arm, Alaska

Day Four: Skagway, Alaska

Day Five: Juneau, Alaska

Day Six: Ketchikan, Alaska

Day Seven: Victoria, British Columbia

Day Eight: Seattle, Washington

Now to get there.  The plan at the moment is to drive.  From Jersey.  With three kids.  In one car.  Oh, and did I mention that at least one kid is in school until June 20th?  Unless we get no snow days, and then she might be done a couple of days sooner.  Should I start taking Valium NOW?

If Google Maps is accurate, we eliminate all pee breaks, we don’t eat anything not already in the car (I’m thinking by hour four, Granuaile is gonna look mighty tasty with some honey mustard), we don’t stop for gas, and we skip any side trips to the World’s Largest Ball of Twine and the World’s Biggest Rocking Chair, we can be there in just under two days (1 day, 22 hours).  My fear is, just adding in pee breaks is going to cause us to miss the boat.  Somehow, I have to balance potty stops, eating, and a tiny bit of sightseeing with getting there in four days – which puts us at a Seattle hotel the day before the cruise.  Oh, and did I mention that I wish to arrive somewhat sane?

And we’re off, faithful readers!  Watch over the next few posts how I try to lay out the trip TO Seattle.  Then we’ll talk shore excursion possibilities.  And finally, we’ll talk about how we get back in time to make my sister’s wedding on July 21st.  Dressed.  In North Carolina.

Oh – and who wants to watch my dogs for three weeks?  They’re great fun to have around!