Monday, January 28, 2013

Motor Touring with our boys

Motor Touring.  It's an old fashioned phrase for what we all call a road trip these days, but no matter what you call it, it can be an amazing Saturday of exploring or a real struggle if you're taking your little ones along for the ride. 

Just this past weekend we were struck with a bit of cabin fever and no set plans.  So we loaded up the boys in my Cherokee and hit the road.  We had no destination in mind, but it was time to put the stuffy house in the rearview mirror.

Over the course of the last 2 1/2 years Jen and I have come across this situation on a regular enough basis to realize that there are just certain things that are must haves to keep everyone happy.

For her and I, our smartphones and a cold drink are typically all we need.  I've got a good enough sense of direction, and can form a mental map, so when I've taken left turn after right turn, I can typically get us back to a recognizable route and point us back home.  However, Google Maps is an invaluable asset to have on the road.  Google Maps are some of the most complete maps that are widely available.  They offer the capability to toggle between road views and satellite images, so if you're looking for something in particular you'll likely find it. 

For example:  While brainstorming our preferred route this weekend I opened up our new favorite scavenger hunt game, Munzee.  While looking for a spot to drive by I thought we could roll a few new Munzees into our map.  In fact I found an area that at first glance would yield 2 Munzees in one location, and 3 more just down the road.  However, once I toggled my map over to satellite view I realized the other 3 were likely down a trail.  Given the recent volume of snow we had I decided against trailing those Munzees with the little guys in tow.

Another great app for your smartphone is called Victory Rides.  Geared more towards the motorcycle rider, this is a very handy app for tracking your progress.  Once you're done for the day you can save the map and build up a collection of routes that you've driven over time.

Now the boys on the other hand are bit tougher to keep happy while touring around the country side. 

Robert is nearly 8 years old and very much into video games.  And while I'd much rather him be enjoying the scenery and watching out for animals, I understand that his Nintendo DSI is a true necessity for longer trips.  What's really important is to invest in a nice pack for the controller and the games, because while out on the road for several hours a single game will only keep him entertained for so long.  Even still when we see something cool, we make sure to point it out to Robert so that he realizes why we drive and explore.  To find new and interesting things of course.

Aiden is 2 1/2 and can have his moments, which justify the term "Terrible Two's."  However, just a little forethought and we can avoid most major meltdowns.  First is to take care of the belly.  When driving it's easy to lose track of time and find yourself at 3pm and hungry.  For an adult it's easy to suck it up and just have a bigger dinner in a couple more hours.  That logic doesn't make sense to a 2 year old, so if it's close to lunch, and it has been a couple hours since his last meal.  Chances are you'll be better off finding a place to have a small snack, then pushing it any further. 

Of course what goes in must come out, so even if it's a short trip, don't forget the diaper bag.  Since you're on the road a change of clothes will likely also be a necessity.  On one trip, we had pushed it a bit too far and Aiden's diaper didn't make it between changes.  His body is easy enough to clean up, but his clothes, not so much.  Thankfully his PJ's were in the bag from his last overnight at Grandma's. 

Finally the last bit of advice for the little ones.  They all seem to love to nap in their car seats, and a quiet car can be music to a parent's ears, but again pay attention to the clock.  Just because you're on the road at 5, and he's relaxed enough to sleep at 5, doesn't mean it's a good idea.  A late nap has caused many a night time heartache, which could have been avoided, by getting the little guy up and moving.  Stop the car, stretch, maybe jump into the woods for sec.

Happy Exploring
Scott M

No comments:

Post a Comment