Today marks the beginning of the second week of our Permanent Change of Station (PCS) journey from Maine to Kodiak, Alaska for my husband’s new US Coast Guard assignment. Since we have two little ones with us and are doing a partial DIY move (meaning we are transporting a certain portion of our own clothing, children’s toys, gear, etc), we are taking our time going across the United States to meet our ferry that will take us to Alaska.
Last Friday, we checked out of our 3 bedroom unit at the privately managed Navy Housing neighborhood in Maine (good riddance to that place!) and headed to New Jersey to ship our Volkswagen Jetta. That experience was super-stressful: Being in separate cars, and fighting against the clock, since the car had to be at the shipping center by 4:00 EST, I told Hubs to go ahead of me and try to get there as soon as possible. His GPS ended up taking him a really roundabout way, but he still got there faster than I and the kids did.
After driving for 4 hours from Maine to Connecticut, Abbey, Joe, and I ended up stuck on the George Washington Bridge from CT through NYC to NJ for . . . get this. . . 3 hours. After we finally got through the mess, we found the culprits: three stalled cars and an accident.
I had to pee so badly, Abbey was getting more and more hungry for dinner, and Joseph, an hour and a half into the giant traffic jam, had a poopy diaper. It was awful. To make things worse, my phone ran out of battery, and I was under the assumption that Hubs had taken my cell phone charger into his car, so I turned off the phone when it got to 1% battery to conserve something should I need to make an emergency call.
After 3 hours. Yes, 3 hours, of driving 10 miles per hour on the bridge, we finally got to the Edison Rest Stop in NJ, used the restrooms, stretched our legs, and I got dinner for the kids. Hubs met us there after I turned my phone back on and called him, but he was really worried that we had gotten into an accident or hurt in some way because he couldn’t get ahold of us on my phone. Then the best news of all: The POV (Privately Owned Vehicle Processing Center) wouldn’t take our Jetta until Monday morning.
After driving all the way to NJ in a day, especially through all the ridiculous traffic jams, we were pretty upset. But we just went ahead with our plan to visit Sesame Place, an hour away from the POV center, in Pennsylvania, and tried to put the stressful first day of our trip behind us.
Like I posted the last week of our residence in Maine, the Silly Bears had actually been doing reasonably well emotionally and behaviorally with packing our house up, leaving our friends, and staying in a hotel.
But when we went from staying in the Navy Hotel (which was amazing) to sleeping in the civilian hotels, and doing more driving than playing, we started to lose control of Abbey’s emotions and her potty language and baby-talk started to get really heavy and frustrating. In addition, she was starting to act out, and Joseph was following suit.
Despite our frustrations with behavior, and trying so hard to keep Abbey and Joseph’s experience as normal and calm as we could, we really did have a lovely time at Sesame Place.
It was just as we expected: expensive inside (for food and toys, etc) but also very accommodating and super fun for the kids and for us. We enjoyed the Elmo’s World section the best, riding the Peek-A-Bug ride several times, and Hubs and Abbey enjoying the swings multiple times while Joseph and i repeatedly rode the Elmo’s Flying Fish ride.
We also enjoyed the wet attractions – the splash pads were awesome, and there were several, so there was plenty of room for all of the children and parents to enjoy their day without feeling crowded. Joseph really enjoyed waiting and waiting and waiting for the water jets to pop up. . . and then giggling when the cool water would splash up like a geyser. Abbey enjoyed the splash pad immensely as well. She liked practicing swimming in the deepest section of the water (which was only about a foot and a half) and was excited to do the water slide, although we only did that once because the wait in line was just short of traumatizing for both of the Silly Bears (and us parents!)
Joseph and Abbey both did well, no outbursts or tantrums, even without a usual nap time. Joseph did take a nap on Hubs’ lap during the Big Bird’s Rambling River ride, and they both slept well and deeply that night. After a fun day of Sesame Place family time, I put the kids to bed and took Hubs’ laptop to the lobby to work on my college coursework.
Monday, we succeeded in processing the Jetta for transport, but the morning was not void of stress – Abbey was again acting out and we spent two hours trying to navigate New Jersey. Did you know that they don’t have regular interstates at all? If you miss an entrance or exit, you’re going to end up paying an extra toll to get where you need to go. . . and a U-Turn could cost you multiple dollars. Without service roads or any left turns to speak of, navigating Edison, NJ was so frustrating. When we finally made it to Ohio that night at around 10:00 after stopping for food and bathroom needs on our road trip, we were so vey relieved to get the kids to bed and get some rest!
Tuesday, we decided to drive all day again to get to Jed’s parents’ (Nana and Papa’s) house so that we could rest, relax, and eat non fast food. We succeeded: Let’s just say, thank you Steve Jobs for developing the amazing iPhone and iPad. The kids enjoyed Tozzle puzzles, Cake Doodle, and other toddler and preschooler games while we drove. Other activities included singing songs, coloring (although that turned into coloring skin and eating markers, so. . . yeah), and watching movies. And car naps.
. . . and. . . we made it! Just in time to bathe the kiddos and get them to sleep.
DAYS FIVE & SIX:
We have been resting and recouping our strength and patience for the second leg of our trip. We’ll be here in Wisconsin at Nana and Papas for another week, and then we’ll head out again, freshly rested and re-ornganized and re-energized.
Or that’s the plan. . .
Keep up with our travels on Instagram with the hashtags #movingtoalaska and #militaryfamily and check back here for updates and reflections on our cross country military move. Thanks to all of you for your support – I truly enjoy sharing our lives with you, and love getting feedback and questions or comments from my readers and fellow parents and military family members.