We hit the road on Friday, May 2, a little before 9 am. (it takes a while to get two small children ready to leave home for a week, and then to run through the whole apartment twice to make sure we haven't forgotten anything important, left the oven on, what have you). A single stop for coffee, and we were on the highway. A gray and dismal-looking day met us, but it wasn't really raining, just mist and fog. We talked about the new car, about the trip, about work, gas prices, and random things. JJ played with a teething toy and fell asleep. We stopped for more gas before leaving MA, since the New York Thruway tends to be pricey.
About 11:30 we stopped for lunch. Quizno's veggie sub on whole wheat, about the best one is going to do for healthy food at a rest stop. I got some potato chips in hopes that L. would eat something—often when we travel, she's too tired and wound up and barely eats a thing, guaranteed to arrive at our destination on the point of meltdown. She drank some milk and had some applesauce we had brought, refusing all else.
Back on the road through eastern New York state. The boys fell asleep. L. stared out the window, thinking whatever she thinks about. I thought about things I always return to during a long drive—geology, the life cycle of the landscape, the changes of the past fifty years on the small towns and cities we pass—and played my usual memory game of keeping all of the state license plates we've seen in an alphabetic list. This trip we collected California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia, as well as Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Quebec. Not many, but travel season isn't really underway yet. We did see a few large campers on the road, laughing to scorn current gas prices I suppose.
After about 300 miles we switched off driving, and the weather promptly got worse as we passed through bands of heavy spattering rain. I read my new Saveur and an issue of Food & Wine I had picked up the day before. I have a longstanding tendency to bring a ton of reading material with me on a trip and never get around to it. This time I restricted myself to a few magazines, figuring that any spare time I ended up with could be profitably used for writing, or even working if I got really bored (this did not in fact happen).
We made it through Buffalo without getting caught in rush-hour traffic. Just before the state line, the gas light came on. We pulled off at the next exit and bought a few gallons at a gas station with old-fashioned, non-digital pumps, where the first digit in $3.96 had been printed out and pasted on at some point.
We got into Erie about 6:30 pm., not too bad given the necessary stops, and spent a pleasant evening with my mom, sister, and niece. The new house was duly admired, the journey discussed, and we got takeout from the Chinese place around the corner for dinner. L did indeed melt down when we asked her to stop playing with her cousin's toys and eat something for dinner. Even her favorite things resulted in sobbing, writhing, and general histrionics. We got some juice into her and let her go, after which her cousin cleverly got her to eat some graham crackers by eating some herself. We wondered if this might work with, say, broccoli, but decided not to push it. JJ hasn't yet reached the point where he's afraid of strange people, and was thoroughly charming as usual. Sometime around 10 we all got to bed. JJ slept peacefully in his Pack'n'Play, waking up only once for a late-night snack. We endured investigation by several of the cats, and otherwise slept soundly ourselves.