While we enjoyed our time at our destinations, we learned an important lesson over the past week: My husband and I aren’t cut out for road trips with two under two. For the sake of our marriage, sanity and preserving the joy in family vacations to come, we decided to change our plans for an upcoming vacation later this summer based on what we learned from this trip. Here’s why:
- Frequent stopping to nurse an infant significantly increases the length of the car trip.
- While it’s adorable that everything is so exciting to a toddler, this means that our almost 2-year-old won’t sleep well in the car or in a hotel room. Hotel rooms are more likely when you have a longer car trip because of the aforementioned nursing infant.
- Traveling interferes with little people’s schedules. Delayed naps and meals mean fussy, non-compliant kiddos.
- Activities you bring to entertain a toddler only work for about 30 minutes each, if you’re lucky.
- Using the iPad to entertain said toddler is harder than it appears. We first ran into issues turning on the pay-as-you-go cellular data feature on my iPad; it may have helped if we tried it more than an hour before we departed, so we could have worked out the issues before we had to get on the road. On the way back, we downloaded a movie for our son to watch. That didn’t work either, as I ran out of space on my iPad, and you can’t play a movie from iTunes if it’s only partially downloaded.
- Packing for two little ones means a lot of luggage (if you ask me, not my husband). You can guess how this went down.
- Traveling reduces the amount of time mom and dad sleep, which means two grumpy parents with little patience. For us, this meant grown-ups arguing two-thirds of the time in the car. Neither of us want to act that way, especially in front of our kids.
So for those of you who have figured out how to travel with two under two, I applaud you. We, unfortunately, are not that talented or patient. So now that we have that honest moment and warning to other parents of littles out of the way, let’s focus on the fun activities:
We left late afternoon a week ago Wednesday and had to stop around dinnertime to nurse Lexi, so our first stop outside of Houston was to eat dinner at Chappell Hill Bakery and Deli. We chose Chappell Hill because Dave and I bicycled through this gorgeous, hilly town during our MS150 training in what now seems like a past life. At our dinner destination, we enjoyed tasty barbecue. I’d love to go back sometime to try some of the restaurant’s delicious-looking pastries and sweets.
We continued driving to Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas, for good friend Ashley Powell’s military graduation on Thursday morning. Ashley and Dave were high school debate partners and have been best friends ever since. They even were the best man in each other’s weddings. Ashley is now married to Melissa, who is pretty awesome, and together they have a precious 7-month-old daughter, Olivia.
We had the privilege of spending most of the day Thursday with the Powells following Ashley’s graduation from the 344th Military Intelligence Battalion. We are thankful that he was the last in line for the graduation ceremony, as we were tied up at the visitor’s center on base. Apparently, you need the individual you are visiting to vouch for you at the visitor’s center, which wasn’t possible at the time we arrived the morning of the graduation. After sharing how we drove for six-plus hours to be there, they decided that a duty officer could vouch for us for a 12-hour visit. I’m sure toting an infant and toddler helped them feel more comfortable that we weren’t a security threat. And for the record, Ashley did ask several people what we needed to do to be cleared beforehand, and nobody mentioned he had to be there in person to sign for us. Let’s just attribute it to the military keeping information confidential on a need-to-know basis. Lesson learned.
Before the graduation ceremony, we grabbed lattes at Stango’s Coffee Shop and Ice Cream Soda Fountain. I loved the eclectic interior with a hip, small town vibe. I wish I would have taken photos myself, but you can get a good idea of what Stango’s looks like here. If we ever go back to San Angelo, I would make sure to stop here and have an entire meal.
For lunch, we all ate at The Peasant Village Restaurant. There were many gourmet hot sandwiches on the menu, and I thoroughly enjoyed my Chupacabra (jalapeño cheddar roll with turkey, oven-roasted chicken, brie, provolone, remoulade, pesto, lettuce, roasted bell pepper, caramelized onion and tomato). The customer service leaves much to be desired, but the restaurant seems to pride itself on being a locals joint without apologizing for not catering to visitors. A waitress even told us we weren’t allowed to have outside containers or food or the TABC would fine them. Ashley had a water bottle, and we had snacks for Levi at the table. Pretty sure that’s not a health hazard, but I digress.
Amid stops to the Powells’ on-base hotel room for nursing babies and nap times, Thursday afternoon we explored the historic military vehicles on Goodfellow Air Force Base. It was great catching up with the Powells before they make their move to Georgia. Hopefully, in the future we will have the opportunity to cross paths again, when we will surely take the time to catch up over wine after the kids are asleep. That, unfortunately, didn’t happen in San Angelo. We did have an opportunity to do that with our friends in New Braunfels though, which was nice.
Late afternoon Thursday we started our drive to New Braunfels, Texas, to visit friends, Roy and Linda Lund. We stopped at Hondo’s on Main in Fredericksburg, Texas, for dinner and to nurse Lexi. Hondo’s has an outdoor music venue as well as indoor air-conditioned seating, where we sat. While the food and atmosphere was good, just a warning if you are stopping here with diaper-clad children: The bathrooms are super tiny, so changing little people there is nearly impossible. This was another point in our trip when everyone was thoroughly crabby and us parents were a bit forgetful, as Dave trekked back to the truck to gather kid necessities and a wallet three times before we placed our order. On a positive note, Levi’s crabbiness did translate into a cute story. Every time someone walked by with food, he would cry “my dinner” or “my hot dog.” We did indeed order him a hot dog, and once he had one in front of him he was much happier.
We were thankful to be able to stay with the incredibly sweet and hospitable Lunds in New Braunfels. On Friday morning, we took it easy just hanging around their house to recover from the prior days’ activities. That afternoon we ventured out to New Braunfels Feed & Supply to see the animals, Gruene Harley-Davidson to buy Opa a Father’s Day gift and Got Toys? where Levi went home with a pair of noisy, pint-sized ray guns. At Harley-Davidson we discovered what we will likely be purchasing Levi for his birthday next month—a Strider learn-to-ride bicycle.
Saturday was another big day. In the morning we made a quick stop to feed deer at Landa Park on our way to the New Braunfels Farm to Market, which was Lexi’s favorite stop because she scored three new headbands at $1 each! From the farmers’ market, we walked a few blocks to the New Braunfels Railroad Museum, which we happened to catch on Kids Fun Day, which is the first and third Saturdays of the month from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. In addition to the museum itself, there were many model trains, Lego trains kids could build and run as well as full-size train cars to explore. Levi even earned a junior engineer certificate for operating a Thomas the Tank Engine train. We then headed back to the car and parked in a shady spot at Landa Park, so I could nurse Lexi while the others took Levi for a train ride (we received a free ticket for Levi to ride when we were at the Railroad Museum). We then got out our awesome new double jogging stroller and took the kids on a short walk around the park and ended at the wading pool to cool off.
After a busy morning full of fun activities, we put Levi down for a much-needed nap. Roy and Linda graciously offered to watch the kids while Dave and I went out to lunch for a day date. We took them up on the offer and per their recommendation headed to Huisache Grill—delicious! I even indulged in a glass of chilled pinot gris while we waited for our table. While we had a nice time away from the kids, upon our return we discovered that Lexi is still refusing to take a bottle. (Thanks, Roy and Linda, for putting up with Lexi crying her head off!) Guess she’s sticking to her nickname of “Princess Lexi” that Dave and I gave her in the hospital when she refused to sleep anywhere besides on mom’s or dad’s chest. Good thing she’s so adorable!
Our ride home was longer than it needed to be due to stops for nursing and the like, but we stopped at a tasty Mexican joint in Schulenburg, Texas, Lucy Tequilas Mexican Bar & Grill. Luckily we made it home not too long after the kids’ bedtime. It felt good to take a shower and rest in our own bed.