2020 really clipped our wings...So much so that we didn’t even leave Orcas Island for 4 months: the longest our family has ever gone without heading back to “civilization” to source provisions or stock up on "essentials". We filled our life with homestead projects and put all our Wanderlust on the back burner…But as spring, summer and fall drifted swiftly by, we came to the realization that if baby Cedar was going to spend time with family we would need to load up our Sprinter Van, Pony Up, and make it happen. The thought of driving some 2,500 miles during the peak of COVID-19 was equally exciting and terrifying. Buy the ticket, take the ride, we like to say…. So we closed down our island stronghold, hopped the ferry, and said farewell to the emerald isle in its glorious grey saturation. It was off to find the sunshine and family. Sounds lovely… However, driving for days on end with a toddler saddled into the carseat is a real feat of endurance.
Here are the 5 most enlightening lessons we learned along the bumpy way…
1- Drive Time- Don’t push it
We knew that Cedar could probably only handle 7 hours of drive time a day…at best. So, we planned our route according to that timeline, making rest-stops at appropriate intervals. (If our little man was sleeping, we were driving! Hold it in!) For the most part he was a real trooper. The final hour is always the killer. Bringing lots of interactive toys, books, loud rock n’ roll, shiny sparkly things, and anything that can distract a babe even for 5 minutes, was essential. We don’t care for toys with flashing lights and obnoxious noises, but for the drive we caved and would let Cedar play with anything that kept his mind busy(and mouth quiet).
2-Route- Stick to the Wild-lands: Avoid Cities and take the Other!
Because of Covid we decided to take the scenic routes and avoid major Cities. This worked out great for Cedar. When he would get really fussy we could just stop and get him out of the van for some revitalizing air and a walk without worrying about where we were. Or where Covid was….
3- Sleeping under the stars- Campgrounds all the way!
Because we are self-contained in our Sprinter Van, we can pretty much sleep anywhere; but that said, State Park Campgrounds and dispersed camping in National Forests are our top choices! We refused to take Cedar into a hotel room with Covid raging, so camping was a no-brainer. We booked ahead for choice campgrounds that we thought may be full, and that worked out really well. Other, more remote locations we just got lucky or timed it right.
4- Provisions- Stock up and keep sailing. To minimize exposure, our grocery shopping along the way was more of a stockpiling to the gills. All of Cedars’ favorite snacks, plenty of easy things that he could eat while in the car seat. And all our favorite items… We would carry enough milk for 5 days and then have to stock up. We have a great little propane cookstove that we bought on amazon for cheap! We never once ate out along the way. We also enjoy the ritual of brewing our own coffee in the morning, just to be safe( and because we’re coffee snobs).
5- Have FUN- “For all your Ills I give you laughter.” Laugh through the crazy moments. Cedar is a year and half old, so he doesn’t necessarily understand the ‘Why’ behind all the carseat time. Everything might seem like a real fiasco at times when you are on the road for so long. But one of the biggest cornerstones for us was to try and have a sense of humor when things got really hectic.
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