Part 3 of my blog posts recapping the long road (literally!) to our new home in Germany. Like every post I write nowadays, these posts are mostly for my own memory/scrapbooking.
We had been waiting for Tuesday, September 29, for months, and finally, it was here! Time to hit the road to Baltimore, where we would catch our flight to Germany.
Day One: Iowa to Chicago
While some people may prefer to get an early morning start when PCSing, we learned from our mistake last time and accepted that we don’t usually hit the road until the afternoon; this gave us time to check out of the hotel and clean our house without running around like crazy people. (We spent one night in the hotel, and even though it was a bit run-down, it was a nice change from the previous 2 weeks of sleeping on an air mattress in our empty house!) After picking up Drew from his last day of daycare, we started the drive to Chicago. We thought we were headed on the interstate route through Davenport, but our GPS decided to take us on the “fastest” route. (I want to know why GPSes always say the “fastest” route is some rural highway that really isn’t faster.) We didn’t discover our mistake until we stopped for a quick dinner in Dubuque. Needless to say, by that point, it was too late to change course. On the scenic route, we go! And scenic it was. We drove through Galena, Illinois (which looked absolutely beautiful!) and lots of winding roads. In fact, enough winding roads that I almost got carsick. Not exactly ideal when you’re the driver! Poor Gracie must have been a little carsick too because she was meowing in my back seat. We made it to Chicago around 11 pm and checked into our hotel downtown.
Day Two: Chicago to Ohio
We started the morning by dropping Gracie off at the kennel in Chicago that coordinated her flight to Germany. Thanks to heavy Chicago rush hour traffic, Andy had a tough time finding streetside parking, so it was nearly noon when we left the hotel. And today, of all days, the VoIP provider I was using to keep my American cell phone number active decided today was the day they wanted to port my number into their service – meaning I had no GPS to guide me! Andy’s cell phone/GPS was still working, but it was tough staying close to his truck in the Chicago traffic! We made it outside of the city and met up at our predetermined location for a to-go brunch, then hit the road again to make it as far East as we possibly could, ideally Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, it rained the majority of the day. By the time we were a bit southwest of Cleveland around 8 pm, I was done. We checked into a hotel for the night and relaxed before our drive’s final leg in the morning. (I also worked on switching my cell phone service so that I’d have GPS the next day!)
One thing that we didn’t consider when deciding to drive my car to Baltimore versus having it privately shipped from Iowa was toll roads. Holy moly, basically the entire interstate from Chicago through Ohio was a toll road. It was incredibly annoying having to stop and pay the toll every time we needed to get off the interstate (which was a lot, since we were traveling with a 10-month-old!) Also, had we driven just the truck, we probably could have made it to Baltimore faster since we would be able to take turns. (I prefer driving in the morning while Andy prefers driving at night.)
Day Three: Cleveland to Baltimore
Thanks to a sleeping baby that refused to wake up early for once, we once again had a late start leaving Ohio. We had a lot of ground to cover, nearly 6 hours. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you’re traveling with an infant, you might as well double that number by the time you consider frequent diaper changes, stopping for feedings, etc.
My favorite part of the drive was traveling through the Allegheny Mountains in Pennsylvania. The fall foliage was absolutely beautiful! (Someday, we’d love to make a road trip through New England in the autumn.) We stopped at one rest area on the Turnpike that had automated massage chairs, and, y’all, holy MOLY! I was trying to enjoy my massage while holding a squirming infant. It was quite a sight to see. The massage chair must have been set for a big burly dude because it was a deep, deep massage. I had no idea how to adjust the settings either, so I suffered through 15 minutes of torture. The next day there were bruises all up and down my spine.
We stopped again at a tiny town in Maryland on the West Virginia border. It made me giggle because I remember watching NCIS and thinking, “How in the world could they get to West Virginia from DC?!” It turns out it’s a lot closer than I had expected, like 2 hours or less! We spent a good chunk of time soaking up the sunshine, feeding Drew, and generally relaxing before the insanity to come known as Baltimore/DC rush hour traffic. We ignored speed limits, just following the traffic flow, and made it to our hotel near BWI in one piece. Whew.